Environmentalism is a creed of mysticism. While it often tries to display a veneer of science, it in fact rejects reason and science. It regularly makes claims that are divorced from any objective evidence.
Project Save 182, for instance, still insists that SM Baguio is going to cause anÂ enormousÂ amount of environmental damage by balling up a few dozen trees on Luneta Hill. Â This even after it was scientifically proven in court that some of the trees were sick and were past the stage in which they could efficiently absorb air pollution. Â Moreover, Project Save 182 charges SM Baguio with environmental illsÂ (water run off, exceeding the carrying capacity of Baguio, etcetera), the larger part of which is actually being caused by Â hundreds of other business establishments, land developers, and home owners.
In the case of SOS Save Manila Bay, a number of its supporters have uncritically accepted the canardÂ that the proposed Manila Solar City Reclamation Project will block the view of the Manila Bay Sunset and continue to spread this erroneous claim on social media. Â I’ve confronted a number of them (Paulo Alcazaren, Jim Libiran, Sylvia Mayuga, Ninotchska Rosca, Carlos Celdran, etcetera) with graphic data from www.suncalc.net which shows that the proposed reclamation will not block the sunset.
Another visible supporter of Save Manila Bay is Ivan Henares who claims that the February 12 Synchronized Sunset Viewing was attended by 5,000 people.
I was at the February 12 Sunset Viewing and the crowd gathered there couldn’t have been more than 1,500 — unless of course they included passersby, motorists, vendors, and vagrants in their head count.
Never mind the fact that some of their supporters compelled high school students — yes, minors — to participate in the rally just to swell their ranks. Â Even if the student’s participation in the rally were permitted by school authorities and parents, the question is whether the students had an well-informed opinion on the matter. Â The fact that I heard one high school student say that Manila Solar City would cover up the entire bay, when plans for the city clearly show that it was occupying less than 10 percent of the bay, is PROOF that the students didn’t know what was going on.
I think Save Manila Bay IS deliberately confusing the Manila Solar city with a Manila Bay reclamation master plan, which shows the stretch from the Manila Yacht club to the US Embassy will be reclaimed. Â Manila Solar City is NOT the Manila Bay Reclamation Plan.
Other claims of the group that can be scientifically refuted are:
Save Manila Bay claims the proposed Manila Solar City Reclamation will cause flooding or worsen flooding.
- According to PAGASA, the flooding of Roxas boulevard last year during Habagat was caused by a storm surge. Â According to Wiki: Â “a storm surge is an offshore rise of water associated with a low pressure weather system, typically tropical cyclones and strong extratropical cyclones. Storm surges are caused primarily by high winds pushing on the ocean’s surface.”
- The widespread flooding in Metro Manila, in the case of Ondoy and Habagat, were attributed to a number of factors according to the La Liga Policy Center. (1) Only 20% of the Marikina Watershed remains; (2) Natural flood ways, rivers, esteros, and storm drains have been silted, blocked by solid waste, or filled in; (3) Natural rainwater sinks have been covered up by pavement or buildings; (4) Ground subsidence caused by the tapping of ground water or displacement of ground water in the construction of high rise buildings
- The proposed Manila Solar City does not block the mouth of Manila Bay.
Save Manila Bay proponent Lory Tan (CEO of WWF and consultant for SM) claims the proposed Manila Solar City will displace 60Â invertebrateÂ species. Â However, Tan didn’t say if these species were at all endangered at all or if the proposed development encroaches on a protected area under NIPAS. Â The fact is, what Tan says about Manila Solar City could as well be applied to the SM Mall of Asia and which case, the only difference is that Manila Solar City doesn’t have him as their consultant.
Going back to what Schwartz said of environmentalism:
Environmentalism is actually a modern, secularized form of religion. It urges man to subordinate himself to nature, to serve nature, to worship nature as a God. It is an ideology that declares the human mind too feeble to grasp the complexities of an inscrutable world, or “ecosystem.” It is an ideology propelled by the desire to have man prostrate himself before a greater power, the power of nature.
I think the likes of Libiran, Celdran, Alcazaren, and even CCP Chair Emily Altomonte Abrera are beingÂ disingenuous about the whole issue with Manila Solar City in an attempt to cover up their self-interest.
Libiran openly said that he is opposing the reclamation project because it would ruin the view of the bay from the high priced condo he is renting. Â Celdran and the likes of Bart Guingona are up in arms because it will affect the value of their property, even demanding that the Manila City government prioritize the revitalization of their section of Manila. Â Alcazaren is a vocal advocate of building restoration and if the Manila City government opts for restoration, I can only assume Alcazaren would want to be a consultant for a number of restoration projects — having become a self-proclaimed expert on the matter.
Abrera, being the CCP chair, probably sees that the reclamation project — being touted as a new arts and culture hub in Manila — might detract from her agency’s cultural offerings. Â Not that the CCP has made waves at all in the art and culture community under her watch, the last time I actually heard of CCP was the uproar in connection with Mideo Cruz’ installation showing Jesus Christ with a penis on His forehead.
While the mass of people behind SOS Save Manila Bay are beating their collective chests and crying out against “corporate greed”, they aren’t at all acknowledging the fact that the shelving of the project would deprive Manilenyos (residents of Manila) some 100,000 jobs and business from more than 290 Billion in investments over the next couple of years. Â Proponents of Save Manila Bay aren’t saying that the project will raise additional revenues for the Manila City Government’s social services — that’s the money that goes to health centers, public schools, and support for the local police as well as neighborhood watches.
The few dozen people comprising Save Manila Bay is placing a higher value on a sunset colored by polluted air and a bay shimmering under a film of toxic water pollution than the employment and livelihood of millions.
That Â to me is IMMORAL.
The way to assess environmentalism, therefore, is not as a scientific issue, but as aÂ moralÂ one. And this brings us back to where we began. In response to all the claims about the harm posed by various productive activities, one must ask a basic question: “Harmful–by what standard?” For according to the standard of man’s life here on earth, technology is beneficial–wealth is beneficial–material progress is beneficial. According to a rational standard, noÂ actualÂ threats to human welfare could justify the elimination of that upon which man’s welfare depends–namely, production, technology and freedom. Any solution to actual, demonstrable threats must embrace improved production, better technology, more capitalism.
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